ABOUT



SELF-RELIANCE PHILOSOPHY
I grew up a penny-pincher. 

I was a penny-pincher, but I always had everything I could ever need and more. I never wanted for anything important. My (wonderful-amazing-incredible-wise) parents taught me from an early age the importance of being self-reliant, and with that, how to use my money wisely. 

When I earned money, I would first put a percentage of that money into a fund for helping others, then the largest percentage would go into my savings before I would even touch my "spending" money. 

I had summer jobs and participated in the 4-H program. I worked hard in school, and as a result, when college came around, I was able to pay my way through all 4 years of secondary education with the help of scholarships, my savings fund, and my two campus jobs as a peer academic adviser and a personal trainer. Paying for college on my own without taking out any loans is something I was very proud of. For me, it was a major accomplishment. Being financially self-reliant is truly one of the best feelings ever. 

The other great part of being self-reliant is that when you are able to take care of yourself, you can turn around and help others if the need arises. You put yourself in a position to be serviceable, and THAT is another one of the best feelings ever.

So, especially in these "lean" years of my husband's medical school, residency, educational debt, and raising a family, I live by the mantra, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I bargain hunt, I use hand-me-downs, I grind my own wheat to make my own bread, use coupons, and pinch my pennies.  

While it would be easy for people to think I must feel suppressed/depressed living this way, the opposite is true. I love it! I love knowing I'm doing everything I can to be self-reliant... to be able to help myself, and those around me to the best of my abilities. And when these "lean" years are over, I know I'll look back on them fondly. 'Bigger' doesn't = better. 'More' doesn't = happiness. 'Best of the best' doesn't = ... well... the best.


FOOD PHILOSOPHY: 
Monosodium glutamate, cellulose gum, and yellow dye #6 wouldn't be at the top of my list when I think about food.

There are so many chemicals and over-processed ingredients going into the food we buy at the store, and I have trouble pronouncing the names of half of them. I'm not a fan of looking at the mile-long ingredient lists on food labels and reading... and reading... and reading some more. If a can of food has 25 ingredients listed on the label, it's a pretty safe bet that most of what's inside isn't actually "food."


As the quality of the food I find in the store goes down, the prices continue to go up, and it makes NO sense to me.

Don't get me wrong... Not everything I make or eat is "from scratch." I like Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked ice-cream as much as the next person, and I buy produce and other things at the grocery store that aren't exactly fresh from the farm. For me, it's about reconciling how much I spend on groceries with food I can feel good about feeding my family. 

Once in a while, a frozen pizza I buy on sale with a coupon might sneak it's way onto my table, and I'm okay with that. Making sure I use my time properly is another important part of the equation. I have a husband, precious children, other interests, and a life that's important to me. Maintaining balance is key!

 

THIS BLOG
One day, while whipping up a batch of pancakes for my daughters, I found myself thinking about how much money I was saving by making them from scratch rather than buying frozen pancakes, or Bisquick in the store, and how I could feel good knowing EXACTLY what was in the pancakes the girls would eat that morning.

Later, I started mentally breaking down the cost of pancake ingredients, (had to do a little digging to find a few of them) and realized just how significant the difference between my homemade pancakes and the pre-made pancakes was.

The lightbulb went on so to speak, and I started breaking down costs of other homemade foods and comparing them with their pre-made counter-parts and writing it down for reference. Strange thing to do, I know. But, if you couldn't already tell, I LOVE saving money. It's my favorite.

I started this blog as a way to keep track of all my recipes and the calculations I was doing. Then came the (very amateur) photos, and the hope that maybe I could help inspire a few other people to go the homemade route.

One thing led to another, and Pennies & Pancakes was born.

The plan is to put up 1-2 new posts a week. It's not my intention for this blog to become a full-time job... it's more of a "during the kids' nap and quiet time" and "when my husband has night shifts" kinda thing. I love this... but not as much as I love my family. It's not meant to take precedence over my other responsibilities. It's a fun outlet, and it's information that I feel is valuable, and want to share with others. 


THE RECIPES
Each recipe is tried and true. I won't post anything on here that hasn't been tested by me first, and in many cases, used quite often.

It needs to be said that I am no gourmet. I'm not a professional, and probably never will be. I have very few "nice" gadgets, my favorite whisk is missing its handle, my dishes are no longer "8-piece sets" (my cute kiddos can take credit for most of my dish/utensil casualties), and my kitchen is NOT fancy.

That said, I cook a lot. And I thoroughly enjoy it!

If you have any suggestions to make the recipes better, or have a recipe you'd like to share, or want help figuring out cost breakdowns of your favorite homemade recipes, let me know. I'd love to share what I know, and I'm always on the lookout for new ideas!

23 comments:

  1. I just love your blog. I saw your photos on Pinterest. I own The Amish Garden, a wholesale bakery business, but I am not doing it right now because of car wreck injuries.

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to write such a nice comment! I'm very sorry about your injuries, and hope you'll recover soon. I think it's great you have your own bakery business. I'm always looking for great homemade recipes, so please feel free so share any that you love. I hope you continue to enjoy this site!

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  3. Oh my word, Andrea. I had no idea this was your blog! I've got your recipes all over my pinterest board. Hahaha, that awesome! I have to tell you, you are the one that inpired me to start couponing back in MI when I was your VT. Anyway, I wanted to tell you I made your granola bars this week and Brian LOVED them. Well, everybody loved them, but Brian is definately the hardest person in my family to win over. I'm so excited that I don't have to buy those crazy expensive boxes of granola bars anymore. So, thanks!

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    1. Wow! I'm super flattered to have made it to your pinterest boards, and that you like this little "project" of min. :) I'm also sooo glad the granola bars worked out for you. Those were some good times in Michigan! We miss that area and all the amazing people. Hope you guys are well! Thanks for taking time to say hi!

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  4. Hi! I'm Donna from What the Dog Ate. I love your blog and your blog philosophy. I've added you to my list of blogs that I follow. Looking forward to many new great recipes and ideas. Have you made your own vanilla extract? I go through a ton of that and would love to see a price and quality comparison.

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    1. Hi, Donna! Thanks for your kind words. :) I've never made my own vanilla extract... I'd love to try that sometime and price it. Do you have the how-to on your site?

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    2. No I don't, but I've seen a lot of them out there.

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    3. i keep a small jar with vodka in it (neutral flavor) and anytime i use vanilla beans i just add all the bits (scraped pod, ends) to the small jar and that's my vanilla.

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  5. You seem like a very wise young lady! My husband and I have lived a life like you describe for many years. We raised our family this way. I am so grateful that the Lord taught me to live frugally, because that is not the way I was raised. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your wonderful recipes. No doubt someday your financial situation will be quite healthy, given your husband's career choice. If you continue to choose a frugal lifestyle, think of the impact you can have helping others who have less! What a legacy that will be for your children: choosing to live below our means so that we can bless others. Your folks must be so proud of you. -- Julie Hamilton

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    1. Oh my goodness, Julie! Those were just about the kindest words I could ever hope to hear about this site. Thank you so much! You have made my day. Blessings to you!

      Andrea

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  6. Just found your site through Money Saving Mom. I loved reading your about me page. It's great that you learned from your parents and continue to be conscious of your spending and being self reliant. My parents and I immigrated to this country when I was 7. I'm 38 and in my short life have lived to two completely different worlds..from having an out house to living very comfortably here in the states. And although my parents worked hard and saved every possible penny to get ahead in this country, I did not learn from them. It wasn't until recently that my hubby and I have made a goal to be completely debt free and self reliant. I write about it on my blog. You have a great site! I read you are from IL, I'm just outside of Chicago.

    Margaret @ Live Like No One Else

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! I was very blessed to have the parents I did and grow up in the way I did. Now, I'm in Southern Illinois. :) Also, thanks for sharing your site.

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  7. Illinois here too, I love your blog! Can you maybe do a tutorial on your wheat grinding? What is involved, where you find your resources etc?

    Thanks for all the great recipes and tips!

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    1. Hi Kat,

      I'll see what I can do... in the mean time, I'll just kinda tell ya.

      I get my wheat in bulk from the LDS Bishop's Storehouse. (Cheapest place I've ever seen it.) You could also buy it online through Sam's Club, and maybe check to see if they'd ship it to the store to save on shipping. I've never done that... I just know you can get it online through them.

      As far as how I grind the wheat... couldn't be easier. I have an older than Moses what grinder given to me by my mother in law, that I pour the wheat into, flip the switch, and let do all the work. Truly, there's not much more to it than that. Amazon.com is a great place to look for wheat grinders... I'll be getting a new one in the near future. Hope this helps for now!

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  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to teach others ways to be healthy and frugal at the same time. In the past being frugal meant eating bland and unhealthy food(pre made, canned soups, all that chemical stuff). In recent years we have been able to spend a bit more on food and enjoy eating healthy, good tasting meals but our wallet has suffered for it. It is now time to tighten the belt again but going back to unhealthy eating was something I could not do. Then I came across your blog on Pinterest. I appreciate this very much! I have been making homemade bread for sandwichs for a while now but I didn't think grinding wheat could save money! I will be looking into this in the future, thank you!

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  9. I love your blog! My husband is in his first year of residency and I'm originally from So. IL (my family still lives there every heard of the tiny town of Herrin?), but now live in central IL ! Thanks so much for sharing your frugal and awesome recipes!

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    1. Dana! I'm so glad you enjoy the site. It is a small world we live in... I live in Carterville, and have a bunch of friends in Herrin. :) Good luck with residency. I'm pulling for ya!

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    2. Certainly a small world! How funny! :) Thanks for the well wishes and good luck to you as well...those residents certainly put in some long hours! I'll continue to recommend your blog to my friends!

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  10. Hello Andrea,

    What a truly wonderful blog you have here! I just found you today and have spent quite a while having a look at your posts.Thank you so much for all the time you have dedicated by giving step-by-step recipes, photos and instructions etc. I also really enjoy your added humour.:-) You have a delightful family (such gorgeous little girls). Congratulations to you for achieving $300 a month for your groceries! I am very inspired by your blog. Keep up the excellent work.:-) I'll pop by for updates.

    Kaye

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  11. I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm living in a one-income household and looking for ways to save money in a big way - I can barely afford my bills, but I want to change that. I'm also pretty new to cooking and baking, but I'm looking forward to trying a bunch of your recipes! :-D

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  12. I found your blog through google when looking for homemade bagel recipes. I LOVE bagels and a good bagel doesn't need anything on it. When buying food at the store, I try to look to see what's in it. My husband's fave Progresso soups have ingredients that aren't healthy, so I'm on a mission to finding a comparative taste. The bagels in the store are either whole wheat (which I love!) or enriched white flour with cinnamon/brown sugar/blueberries; not both. I have found many penny pinching ways on your site, plus bread/bagel/granola bar recipes; all which I want to make at home. Thanks for making them simple to follow. Your page has definitely found it's way onto my bookmarked internet pages! :)

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  13. I just found your blog today. My kids have all moved out but I am try to save money and cook from scratch more. I am going to make you refried beans in the crockpot tomorrow. Keep up the great work. Do you still live in Idaho? I live in southern Utah. Love the pic of the Idaho Falls temple.

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    1. Hello!! I actually live in Provo. We're moving to South Jordan the end of June, though. :) Nice to see a fellow-Utahn on here. :) Good luck with the beans and the cooking from scratch!

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